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Oculus Rift on a treadmill: A studio tries to take VR a step further
April 22, 2013 | By Mike Rose

April 22, 2013 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Programming, Design, Video

Virtuix, the studio behind the upcoming Omni natural motion treadmill for virtual reality devices, has released a demo of the hardware working alongside the Oculus Rift 3D visor.

The Omni treadmill allows users to essentially run on the spot in any direction, and have a video game pick up the movements and replicate them.

The above video released by Virtuix shows the hardware being used in unison with the Oculus Rift headset, with Valve's Team Fortress 2 as an example of what the combination can potentially be utilized for.

Although the Omni isn't yet available to the public, Virtuix says that a Kickstarter campaign is due to launch sometime in the near future.

The company says that the treadmill hardware will be "affordable for household consumers." More information can be found on the official website.

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Lewis Wakeford
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That looks... surprisingly practical. When I saw the title of the article I imagined some colossal contraption that no one would ever buy, but that doesn't seem to take up much more space than some of the peripherals we already use like racing chairs or the wii fit.

Joseph Anthony B. A. Tanimowo-Reyes
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...I want this so badly.

Rolf Moren
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I see a problem with this..where do i put the bag of chips and the coke? How do a I do a 4 hour long game session. It seem a bit hard to stow out of sight when the gaming session is over.

Believe it or not, gaming is mainly passive activity that most people play with their derriere deeply planted into a sofa and feet comfortably resting on a table. Grown up gamers often have the demands from spouse or significant other to hide the gaming gear away when done. City dwellers often have small appartments and rooms where a contraption of this size would take up far too big of an area. This is the sort of product that we all love to test out and dream about but never buys because

Barry Brooks
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As the comment above mentioned people have racing chairs that can be 2-3x as large as this. The 'battlestation' gaming setup with a large desk and 3+ monitors is another example of something 'common'. I am sure 90% of the gaming and PC market do not reflect this currently. Just like the Occulus Rift will not be used by 90% of the gaming market. That is no reason why this won't take off. I agree the size can be a concern. I am sure tied right along with that will be the price. But rich folk gotta have cool toys too :P

Joel Bitar
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I would rather be running around retardedly with this gear in skyrim at home than on a treadmill with an audiobook at the gym.

Jason Carter
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I would love for some of the new MMOs to support this. Imagine TESO or Wildstar with this capability.

Also, yeah amazing exercise while playing games :D

Thomas Smith
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I see your point Rolf and I think there is a more pressing problem with the rift of it's masses of cables. If I can spin around and around in game, why wouldn't I try and do that with the omni and rift and end up ripping my laptop onto the floor by swinging my head around and running?

If the rift can ever be wireless or of the wires can be attached through a movable ring on the omni or something like that I could get on board with this but currently I'd be too scared I was about to rip my laptop off my desk or the rift off my face.

Doug Poston
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Your laptop is wireless.
With a little ingenuity (and/or duct tape ;)) you can mount your laptop to the rotating ring of the treadmill. Problem solved.

(Note: the reason why you don't want to make the Rift itself wireless is because any lag you add to the head tracking system is really bad for VR).

Jorge Ramos
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I just keep thinking back to all those VR Arcade units that were brought out by companies more than 15 years ago... and how those colossally failed as well.

One of the outstanding issues is that no matter how good the headgear might be, the fact that it blocks our peripheral vision is inherently upsetting. This is why I can more easily enjoy the 3D effect on a Nintendo 3DS(XL), but absolutely resent having to wear even 3D glasses for a movie or TV that supports the effect.

Not to mention in the video shown above, that seems to be a reeeally tiny field of view for the goggles, which seems to be a disadvantage more than anything.

Merc Hoffner
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The Oculus Rift is supposed to be designed to have the widest fields of view of pretty much any HMD ever made (110 degrees apparently!), by virtue of the different way they've handled the optics vs traditional displays (use a large-ass screen that covers your whole face and compensate the focal length with huge optics instead of a pair of microscreens funneled at your eyes with compact optics). The display type in the video above is a part of the warped rendering that they've employed on the software end to accommodate that the really large peripheral view it has introduces a lot of angular distortion when you're that close to a flat panel. fortunately the optic distortion they've used means you have the highest pixel density right in the middle where you're looking.

Mike Kasprzak
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I'm still afraid it's going to cost $1000 (i.e. "affordable"), but I'm more than happy to be wrong. If it's under $500 I'll be tempted. Mr Rift wants a friend.

Geraldo Perez
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Am I correct in noticing that this is not necessarily a treadmill in the mechanical sense (actual rollers, etc) and more a foot position registering system? As in you may need to use specific styles of shoe-soles (not so grippy) for your feet to slide and register correctly? Or am I completely wrong on that?

Joseph Anthony B. A. Tanimowo-Reyes
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If you read the page, it comes with specific shows to work with the device.

I would hope they're inexpensive to replace and come in the necessary variety of sizes.

Mike Griffin
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I suppose if you don't mind being at a competitive disadvantage to others in an online shooter and simply want to enjoy the novelty of "VR" retrofitted to function with an older game, this could be amusing in TF2.

Crucially, however, a marriage of technologies like the Rift and this pseudo-treadmill will require specific titles built and optimized for the set-up.

Because a finely-tuned, high DPI mouse and gaming keyboard will provide faster and more consistent response over the course of anything resembling a normal play session duration.

Unless you're a combined Pro Gamer, Triathlete, and Navy Seal, you're simply going to fall behind the pace and accuracy of accomplished competitors who are using traditional input.

If _everybody_ in the game was using this set-up, then we might have a fair match up.

Otherwise, there's simply no way you're executing 180-degree spins, ducking, jumping, rocket-jumping, you name it -- at anywhere close to the pinpoint accuracy of traditional FPS command input.

If winning or scoring well aren't terribly important to you, by all means.

Otherwise I'd probably save my excitement for this combined technology to exploit compelling single-player campaign games, or more moderately-paced multiplayer experiences.

Or, as mentioned, ideally it's harnessed for games built from the ground up to use the tech.
But this won't happen until a large installed user base exists.

So until then, we transpose our fantasies and hopes for cool VR on top of existing games which didn't begin their life with a VR headset and treadmill in mind. Which inevitably results in compromises.

Lewis Wakeford
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In all honesty I think most *current* single player games would work with the rift. There the competitive disadvantage is not really an issue. Once it builds steam in single player we might see some specifically designed titles for it.

Michael G
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Skyrim and Mirror's Edge both have mods for it, designed by gamers rather than companies. The modder who made the Skyrim version is also working on a Fallout version.

James Yee
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What I would LOVE to see done with this is NOT direct to home sales. Nu-uh. I want to bring back the Arcade. :)

Either a traveling attraction or a fixed location get some of these, some Oculus Rifts, and the computers to run them and a local LAN and you're set. :)